Motivation to quit smoking is not enough

Posted by admin on 13 August, 2013

motivation.jpgA recent study has found that many Australians believe that being motivated to quit smoking is enough to succeed. (1) In other words, if you really want to quit badly enough you will be successful.

However, other research has found that this popular belief is not true. Smokers who are very motivated to quit are not more likely to be successful than those with low levels of motivation. (2)

This is because smoking is a powerful drug addiction, not just a habit. Just wanting to quit is not enough to overcome it. Like heroin and cocaine, nicotine changes the brain to expect a regular fix. Most smokers need medication to treat the nicotine addiction and counselling to help break the habit.

Quitting is most difficult for smokers who are more addicted to nicotine. (3) If you smoke within 30 minutes after waking, you are likely to be more addicted. Heavier smokers are generally more addicted than light smokers and usually need more intensive treatment and support. Click here to see if you are addicted to nicotine.

In recent years, more smokers are seeking help. In 2003, 32% of Australians who had made a quit attempt in the previous year reported using a stop-smoking medication. This proportion rose to 52% in 2009. (4) Seeking help is not a weakness, but is an acknowledgement of having a serious medical condition which will not go a ways just because you want it to.

If you are highly motivated to quit, but keep failing, it might be time to get some professional help. Quitting smoking is an urgent priority. For every year you delay quitting after the age of 35, you lose 3 months of life expectancy. (5)



1) Morphett K. Public Attitudes Toward the Treatment of Nicotine Addiction. Nicotine Tob Res 2013 

2) Borland R. Motivational factors predict quit attempts but not maintenance of smoking  cessation (ITC Cohort). Nicotine Tob Res 2010

3) Vangeli E. Predictors of attempts to stop smoking and their success. Addiction 2011

4) Cooper J. Australian smokers increasingly use help to quit, but number of attempts remains stable. (ITC study). ANZJPH 2011

5) Doll R. Mortality in relation to smoking, 50 years' observations on male British doctors. British Medical Journal 2004


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